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Georges Clarenko & Nikola Akileus

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Georges Clarenko
Nikola Akileus

Can you show us a picture that had a big influence on you?

Georges: A single image, impossible. Or rather an image that is the sum of thousands. Some influences among them: Schizophrenia, Bug, Shin Godzilla, Lovecraft.

Nikola: a comic book extract, of SF obedience and rather dark. Fragment of the exile of a fallen pontiff, in the midst of a mystical crisis, soon a hallucinated prophet of a disintegration of reality.

What are your plans for GRYYYM?

Georges : Gryyym is for me the opportunity to take up our project of creating a universe with the scriptwriter and author Nikola Akileus. Comics being the perfect medium to concretize the symbiosis of our creations.

Nikola: Images born of texts. Original influences: the horrific soil of King & Lovecraft, enriched with a good dose of Frank Herbert (Dune of course – historic canal, but also the sacrificial AI-deity of the Consciousness Program, the Dosadi experience) and Dan Simmons (the Hyperion: his tesla trees, his impaler demon, to name but a few).

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Franck Biancarelli:

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Franck Biancarelli’s self-portrait

Can you show us a picture that had a big influence on you?

I am more facinated by images that give me the feeling of being possible. So certainly, like many, I was marked at a very young age by some images of Wrightson but in the end, much more by some of Ditko’s and of course Alex Toth’s (my hero).

What are your plans for GRYYYM?

I drew hard images in the past but for the moment, until when I don’t know, I am very interested in producing images that each taken separately could be described as quite charming but can cause a feeling of unease when these are put together. So the objective is there: To produce a form of beauty, normality, poetry, elegance but which in the end leaves a strange aftertaste.

Can you show us a picture from your work which has a special meaning for you?

What interests me more than expressing a very strong point of view is to take a step to the side. Like a little dysfunction. Here, for example, I like this image because it seems to me (I hope I’m right) that the dramaticized point of view it produces is rarely seen. We are both diving in the shelter of the battle, but at the same time too close to really take the measure and we only see fragments of it. It seems to me that the point of view and what is shown contradict each other and cause a form of confusion, which was my objective because I think the state of confusion is predominant in a hand-to-hand battle (I hope it is at least a little true if not all this explanation is perfectly ridiculous, ha).

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Paolo Massagli

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Can you show us a picture that had a big influence on you?

More than an image, a character: Pinhead in Hellraiser, based on Clive Barker’s story: “Slaves of Hell”.

What are your plans for GRYYYM?

For Gryyym, I propose a short story about freedom with an esoteric key, during the Second World War.

Can you show us a picture from your work which has a special meaning for you?

My previous work “Like an insect”, published by Hollow Press, is an horror graphic novel but also intimist that deals with the theme of intimidation.

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Interview with Pat Mills, Gryyym’s first sponsor!

Portrait of Pat Mills way past his death and rise again from the deads by Gregory Makles

Personal disclaimer: I probably wouldn’t be doing comic if it were not for Pat Mills. To me, his way always felt “the” right way. Entertaining but deep, a way of telling stories that allowed both for great dialogs and impactful art, nasty but empathic, I was drafted toward Mills as soon as someone brought a Judge Dredd (which he co-created with John Wagner) in my school. Years later when my mind was blown away by the great Zenda books of Slaine and Marshall Law, I didn’t realize the nectar was coming from the same fountain. But I was left with an endless thirst for more.

He also is a major international author who always wanted to be published in France and achieved it with no one else but Oliver Ledroit. To this days they produced 10 albums together, from the witches of Sha to the Hellish

Pat Mills is not only the celebrated author of those or the wonderful Charlie’s War. He also created many comic magazines, including the absolutely iconic 2000 AD. Name any English artist or writers who matter in comic books (and there’s a lot), they’ve nearly certainly published in it.

So imagine our joy when Pat accepted to be a big part of Gryyym. Not only did he bring a wonderful dark science fiction story illustrated by the amazing Fay Dalton, he also had a perfectly themed series of Shlock grim fables in need of the right artist, which will be… surprise! All of this of course previously unpublished in France (or at all).

We’ve asked Pat Mills to be our sponsors as building on the legacy of 2000 AD means a lot to us. Here’s an extensive interview where he gives us his unique perspective of a long, busy carrier spread in UK, USA and France like no other on comics and where they’re headed.


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2000 AD, Slaine, Dredd, all created or co created by Pat Mills

Hello Pat, and thank you for your sponsor! You may have launched more UK comics magazine than any other person, living or not, and now here you are helping us Froggies to launch Gryyym, a crowd-funded mook, debuting on March 28th, 2019 on kisskissbankbank. From Battle Weekly (1975) to 2000 AD (1977) to Toxic (1991) and many others and now Gryyym, how do you see the evolution of how one creates a thematic comic publication from your debut to the here and now?

There are several routes.  One route in Britain was to produce comics for adults – like Revolver and Crisis. Or to make 2000AD more adult. Ultimately in Britain this was a cul de sac which alienated many younger readers. It was often motivated by professionals’ arrogance, snobbery and disdain for younger readers.  Younger readers reacted by leaving comics. So today, British comics barely survive.

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ABC Warriors, Simon Bisley’s iconic debut with Pat Mills

A second route is to attract younger readers in Britain whilst retaining a certain sophistication. Thus Valerian is the kind of series that – suitably ‘Anglicised’ – would appeal to readers of all ages in Britain. Today, in Britain, no one is interested in producing comics for kids. It’s a great pity.

In France, all this is different as you have a healthier comic industry. But Gryyym seems like a very healthy step forward to promote new talent

By the way the French influence on science fiction and comics has never been understood or valued enough in my opinion. I certainly acknowledged it on 2000AD, but I doubt that many people are aware of its influence on Star Wars, Alien, Blade Runner etc. So a French comic like Gryyym immediately gets my vote!

You’ve experienced various resistance and censorship from what you described as the conservative establishment. How do you feel these restrictions have evolved during your career?

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Marshal Law, with Kevin O’Neill. Not everyone’s role model.

Censorship isn’t too bad now. But there is a lack of interest in politics, historical and social themes certainly in Britain. Most people would prefer the same old stuff – so not a lot of progress there. The biggest issues lie elsewhere.

Such as ?

The two big problems which have almost destroyed British comics are as follows:

  • First,  rights in British publishing are a disgrace. Basically all British mainstream publisher buy all rights and royalties are either non existent or very low.  This may be hard for you to understand in France – after all, your country, I understand, was first in creating copyright laws to protect creators. In Britain they have a wretched system where publishers own all the creators’ work.  This means many creators don’t give a shit about their work and just use Britain as a stepping stone to work for America – where there is the potential for better money, although, in practise it’s often little better than Britain. Or they treat working in comics as a hobby and don’t give up their day job.  Either way the lack of rights has resulted in a loss of talent. So we’re still in the Stone Age in Britain, I’m afraid. Few new talents like Bolland, Bisley, Fabry and O’Neill have come forward in the last decade or so.
    There was one notable exception – Fay Dalton who I instantly recognised was first division. Could I get her work on 2000AD? Could I Hell! No explanation, so I have to assume it’s because she’s too classic and too sexy for Britain. Her loss in France’s gain as you’re running one of her stories. And she is now doing work on Casino Royale for Ian Fleming estate. She’s probably now too expensive for comics!  
    This is how Britain neglects its new talent.

  • second we also have a hefty dose of intellectual snobbery. Although few professionals will admit it, they don’t like working for kids. They dream of graphic novels which usually, in practise, sell few copies but may receive good acknowledgement at conventions. So kids, on which the British comic industry was based, are neglected go off to play computer games instead.

In France it’s different – you have a healthy comic industry so you can support books with a certain intellectual snobbery or arthouse or whatever you may call it in France. In Britain we don’t have that luxury.

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Requiem, with Olivier Ledroit. Based on real characters. Guess who!

Your stories typically use the light framework of popular genre intricated with a deep political layer. SF societal implications are often easy to grasp; in horror, it can be more subtle. What do you like to use that kind of vehicle for when you’re writing?

Both horror and SF can make strong political points. For instance the horror story Schlock Pioneer 13 – which I know you’re hoping to run – is about product placement in film and tv. I believe in Hollywood it’s actually worse and some of the Marvel films are funded by CIA.

How so?

I believe CIA supported Hulk movie. Certainly it was a US government agency.  Nearly all Britain’s fictional characters – Sherlock Holmes, James Bond, Scarlet Pimpernel  etc – derive from the upper classes. In case you’re wondering who the Scarlet Pimpernel is… He was a character who was VERY popular in British films and books until the 1980s. He was Sir Percy Blakeney who rescued those poor, ‘innocent’ French aristocrats from the guillotine, constantly outwitting the villainous secret agent Chauvelin from the French republic who just wasn’t clever enough for the British aristocracy. As you can doubtless guess, my sympathy is with Chauvelin. He should have caught Sir Percy and introduced him to Madame Guillotine.

All my heroes are working class and there are some you won’t know of like Defoe who is a 17th century British Leveller (early socialist/communist) who fights zombies etc.

It’s embarrassing how in Britain we kiss the ass of the upper classes. We need more characters like Fantomas to deal with them!  I can see why he was popular in France although we are so obedient of authority in Britain I guess it wouldn’t work here.

You gave us quite a few landmarks comics mixing terrific nasty fun yet packed with adult life topics. Marshall Law hits hard the way the Show Biz, Politics, Science and Military work together in a way that’s explicitly reminiscent of post-Vietnam USA. Slaine is an in-depth demolition of machismo that has a striking precursor quality to how society evolved since. ABC Warriors is a mockery of how all wars are pointless, etc. What do you see as the key thing to speak about for you in 2019?

Probably in my text novels Read Em and Weep which are about the world of comics. There I focus on kids revenging themselves on sexual abusers. In particular a fictional character inspired by the infamous tv celebrity Jimmy Savile. And a further text novel about an assassin in World War One – detailing trading with the enemy during World War One. Thus France was supplying explosives and ingredients for poison gas to Germany. And Germany was supplying France with steel, barbed wire etc. All via Switzerland.  It’s all a lie which is repeated today with modern wars.

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The Cursed Earth, with Brian Bolland, one of Judge Dredd landmark stories.

Charlie is your positive hero, but typically your stories are more of the “band of bastards” type, which I personally dig a lot. That framework for a story has also worked wonderfully in movies like The Good, The Bad, The Ugly. What do you like about this kind of protagonist?

Good guys in films, comics and books can be boring. We always want our characters to be flawed in some way.  Charlie was flawed by not being very intelligent and thus believing in the propaganda of World War One.

Charlie is a good guy though. Most of your other characters, not so much…

Probably because we are so cynical in British comics.  In text novels there are plenty. In girls comics there were numerous positive heroines. In Britain girls comics outsold male comics by two to one.  But it’s a male world in comics and few professionals (apart from me) were interested. They’re now slowly enjoying a small revival.

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Charley’s War with Scott Goodall. True horror.

In another interview you mentioned how you felt the fact that Judge Dredd character was limited interms of successful movie adaptation because of its core fascist nature. Indeed Dredd fulfills a pattern of many “Millsians” heroes with an explicit fascist or terrorist component (Marshal Law, nearly all ABC warriors, Bill Savage, Requiem…). What drives you to that mix of attacking what are typically progressive target (warmongers, the rich and the wealthy…) through protagonists who are never shy of judging and executing with a single bullet?

It’s the most commercially successful way of doing things. It connects quickly with an audience. In a weekly comic we only have six pages per story to make an impact, so we have to move fast!  We don’t have the luxury of a 48 page album. And our audience wants a quick result.

We found that the more extreme the character, the better the readers liked it. Hence Dredd.  But we twisted it around so it had a radical sub-text. In that respect we were probably influenced by the French and American comics like 1984.

Thank you Pat, and for our readers, stay tuned for the terrific stories Pat has cooked up for Gryyym!

Reaper Buddy with Fay Dalton… read it soon in Gryyym!

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Meet the Crew: Gabriel Delmas

Gabriel Delmas, self portrait as a Vampire

Hey you, who are you?

Gabriel Delmas, painter and illustrator. I authored a number of comic books (Le Psychopompe, Vampyr, Le Mouton-chien Manchot, Vorax…) and underground graphzines often with occult themes or dark fantasy. Some are now available from Hollow Press like “Largemouths”, “Fobo” or “Plutonium”. An exhibition of my work took place in Bologna, Italy in December 2016 around a giant format album “Xuwwuu” published by Hollow Press, and in August 2018 in Rodez using drawings available in the collection “Riggel Bum”.

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Andwhat do you do in Gryyym?

In Gryyym, I’ll make do the graphic design of the mook, an editorial and some obscure drawn thingies. Everything will depend on what can be done, but the more freedom and space we have, the more amazing Gryyym will be.

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Moloch Jupiter Superstar, with Patrick Pion.

Why so Gryyym?

I do Gryyym to live the experience, life is short and there are no extra moves to be done after the “Game Over”. The idea is to find a fantastic and horrific comic strip, with the visual and witty pleasure from Creepy and Heavy Metal magazines. Freedom of tone, a mix of underground and more classical styles, side to side, without snobbery.

Seigneur Venin

Ta BD d’horreur préférée?

My favorite horror comic is Cidopey de Corben. The colouring and drawing make it a work of art for me. These pages should be in a Museum of Modern Art.

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Meet the Crew: Gregory Makles

Gregory Makles, Self Portrait after a highly successful diet.

Hey you, who are you?

Gregory Makles. I am mostly known for my work with Paul Jorion on La Survie de l’Espèce, a graphic novel on finance that laugh wickedly at our own species (that’s being adapted as a stop motion tv show). I have also made quite a few people laugh quite a lot (or so they say) on my South Park style comic on my life as a World of Warcraft character in Aventures de Stevostin. Before all that I wrote quite a few mostly serious fantasy stories for Robin Recht (Le Dernier Rituel) and Joseph Lacroix (l’Encyclopédie du Mal), including Ruppert which I also drew. In another life, I am co-founder of Ohm Force, a small but somehow cult audio software company with very famous users.

Hey you, what do you do?

Initially I just told a bunch of friends that maybe they should consider crowdfunding in 2019 for an horror comic project. I then got drafted as the “web campaign guy” as well as an author. They know me from our art school days (ENSAD) where my real dream were grounded in my deep love for UK awesome comics (Bisley, Mc Kean, Hewlett, you know the bunch) so they were aware I needed little push to put back the gloves on and do something really dark.

And why so Gryyym?

Quite simply, it’s about doing the kind of comic I crave. Genre, popular comics with total dedication is were the real art is for me. Be fun, but be deep, be spectacular, but always have a reason, don’t tell people what to think, but do think yourself. Pat Mills, who’s our sponsor and hands down my favorite comic writer, embodies that perfectly.

Your favorite horror comic?

Probably some bits of Dave Mc Kean’s Cages that are scary the way David Lynch can be in theaters. Now if we’re speaking about my first, biggest hunch on horrors, it was when as a young teen a friend brought Bolland’s Judge Dredd, with the dead judges, at school. The black and white art, the characters, I was completely fascinated.

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Meet the crew: Joseph Lacroix

Joseph Lacroix, self-portrait as undead.

Hey you, who are you?

I am « Diablo 3, Sword of justice » with Aaron Williams,
the « Encyclopédie du mal » with Grégory Maklès, « Pythons » with Gabriel Delmas, « Fébus » with Catmalou, part of the « book of Tyrael » and other from Diablo and World of Warcraft lore… and hundreds of drawings piling up in search of freedom!

Hey you, what do you do?

I’m bouncing between Gabriel, Greg and Jérôme. I fight my shyness by finding and trying to convince artists from all walks of life to come and join us. I’m tinkering with the com. And I also draw the Grenouillard. It’s a wild comic that will be part of the dark fantasy contingent in GRYYYYM.

And why so Gryyym?

My drive in “GRYYYYM” is to create some space for free expression and experimentation.

It has become extremely difficult to publish comics in France. As a result, we spend a lot of time anxiously building custom proposals… thousands of pages that disappear into the limbo of correspondence between authors and publishers.

I want the opposite approach in GRYYYYM: drawing with your guts, being bold. Strong characters, exuberant universes, sharp stories. No fuss, no yada yada. Drawing that hits hard, stories that shake things up.
Then we let the readers decide

Your favorite horror comic?

If I have to choose only one: “Jenifer” by Bernie Wrightson. Everything is there: virtuosity in the service of the story and proof that in a few pages you can provoke real emotions. I also have a graphic passion for Alex Toth’s “Grave undertaking” which I have been tracking for many months. And “Sanctum” by Mike Mignola, because Mignola.

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